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2021 in Pictures

In the long-standing tradition of this blog, I’m back again with another year in review!

Like most of 2020, 2021 felt like being in a perpetual limbo – a year peppered with uncertainty, and where life seemed to move neither forwards nor backwards. I missed my husband the most: due to pandemic restrictions and endless lockdowns, we were unable to make any concrete plans for him to travel to Malaysia for much of the year. But more on this later.

JANUARY

The year was off to a sluggish start, and I did not get much done other than routine work. This was when Malaysia had its second MCO (Movement Control Order), which meant that we were not allowed to be out and about for leisure, or visit family and friends in other states.

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As everyone was stuck at home, I took some time to try candle-making for the first time. It didn’t turn out bad, considering how sucky I am with artsy fartsy stuff. In a fit of boredom, I also finally succumbed to a Netflix subscription.

FEBRUARY

One of the perks of being able to work from home is flexibility. Much of February was spent ferrying my mom to the doctor for her eye surgery, as well as follow-ups. February was also Chinese New Year month, and although we weren’t able to visit relatives, we had a quiet celebration at home with lots of food.

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MARCH

Movement restrictions were eased slightly, so I took the opportunity to try out new cafes, eat out at restaurants and just grab whatever chance I could to get out of the house, while still adhering to health and safety rules.

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It’s amazing how changing your perspective a little can work wonders. I found joy in simple things like going out for a meal, or just going to a mall for groceries: I’d think of it as a ‘trip’, just like how I would for a holiday. And I’d pay attention to things that I would have completely ignored before. Take, for example, the time I drove my mom to the eye clinic. While waiting for her surgery, I walked around the CBD, and just spent a couple of hours soaking in the sights, taking videos and photos, like a tourist would. It was a refreshing feeling.

APRIL

I continued my trend of exploring local spots. One particularly memorable spot was Kedai KL, an artisanal market concept housing small businesses, from kimono stores to cafes and tattoo parlours.

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April was also when I picked up embroidery, surprising even myself. Being an INTP, I’ve never been good with my hands, prefering learning through books and pursuits of the mind. But I found embroidery to be therapeutic, especially when it involves making a pattern or filling up a space on the fabric with repeated motions. It’s a hobby that has stuck with me until the end of the year, and I’m looking forward to working on more projects, and upskilling myself.

MAY

I went to check out the newly opened Don Don Donki store, which is the first of its kind in Malaysia, at Lot 10, Kuala Lumpur. It was my first time in over a year being in KL again, so it was nice to be out and about.

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After some deliberation, I gave my old phone to my mom (because the camera wasn’t good anymore, and since I like taking photos this was a sore point), and bought a new one: the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. It was my most expensive phone to date, but half a year on I’m pretty happy with how well it works.

JUNE

Didn’t do much in June, except subscribe to a book bundle. I think at this point I was deliberating whether or not to quit my job. Work had become extremely tedious, and I felt disinterested and uninspired. It didn’t help that some of my other colleagues were also leaving the company for better prospects.

It was around this time that I felt at an all-time low. I did not feel as if I could move forward or grow anymore, but I was also worried about leaving the job and not having a stable income to support my family, especially since my parents were retired.

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JULY

Feeling dispirited at work, I spent most of my free time escaping into games as a coping mechanism. Also got my first AstraZeneca shot.

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AUGUST

Got my second dose of AstraZeneca. Around this time, I started having problems with breathing, as well as atopic dermatitis (which hasn’t resolved by the way, even as I write this in December). I wasn’t sure if it was due to my body responding to the vaccine, or whether it was stress induced from my work situation and basically being cooped up all the time. At one point, my dyspnea was so bad I thought I was suffering from COVID, as I couldn’t breathe properly and was gasping for air. The doctor, however, said it was just GERD. To this day, I’m still unsure if it is GERD, because although the medicine did not cure me ( I still have breathing difficulties), it is much better now and does not disrupt my daily life as much.

SEPTEMBER

Had a quiet birthday month. Friends weren’t able to celebrate it with me, as my parents were still afraid of COVID, so I tried not to hangout with people too much. My birthday meal was Putien, which I finally got to try after all this time.

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At work, the situation was on a downward trend. Another colleague resigned, leaving me and another colleague to shoulder what was essentially the workload of a five-man team. As the situation did not seem like it would be improving, it was around this time that I started thinking of making an exit, even without a concrete job offer. I felt like I had enough savings to last me awhile, as I was really in a bad place emotionally and mentally, and needed the break.

OCTOBER

Things suddenly started picking up in the last quarter of the year. I went for a series of interviews, and successfully landed a new job. Armed with this, I tendered my resignation. It feels sad to leave a company that I’ve spent five years in, building and honing it to what it is today, but all good times come to an end, and I feel like it wouldn’t have been beneficial to both me or the company if I continued stagnating where I was. I still had to finish up all my tasks before leaving, so I busied myself with making sure that everything was in order before I left.

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Managed to squeeze in some time for local sightseeing at Jenjarom.

Towards the end of the month, the husband and I finally decided to start making plans for him to travel here and apply for the Long Term Spouse Visa, which was long overdue. We had initially wanted to do this after our wedding ceremony in 2020. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit, and he got stuck in the Philippines. And then it was just one travel restriction after another. We felt like if we waited any longer, who knows what other thing the universe might throw at us – so we took the plunge.

Of course, travelling these days is no longer just about hopping onto a plane and flying to your destination. It took us months of planning and multiple rejections, running to the immigration and so on and so forth. In the end, it took us three months to have everything in place.

NOVEMBER

November passed by in a blur of work, eating out, exploring new local destinations like the World of Phalaenopsis in Ulu Yam, more work, and getting things into order for the husband’s travels in December.

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DECEMBER

And in the blink of an eye, here we are in December. The highlight of this month, and of the year, really, is that after nearly two years of separation, my husband has finally made it back to Malaysia. He will be here to apply for the LTSVP, which was delayed for so long.

It’s hard to describe in words how I feel – the sense of how much time we’ve lost in between, and the excitement that we’re finally going to make up for it, and build a life together. Of course, it’s not going to be easy, but the important thing is that we’re going to be around for each other; no longer through a screen, thousands of miles away.

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The earlier part of the month saw me visiting new places – a Thai wat, the new Don Don Donki store in PJ – and burying myself in work, so that time would pass by quicker until the day he arrived. I’ve never been a religious person, but I found myself praying to the universe that things would go smoothly, as it would be terrible for us to have our hopes up only to be dashed by another challenge being thrown our way.

But I’m happy to announce that the hubs arrived safely last week, and will be out from quarantine tomorrow. I will finally be able to see him after close to two years. I spent the last week almost in auto pilot, finishing up all my work for the current job before doing the handover, and also volunteering to help pack vegetarian food for victims of the recent flood.

The day has finally come.

So yeah. Year started off shitty, and there were more downs than ups, but all of it worked out in the end.

2022 is the year.

What about you? How was your 2021?